I'm having some trouble uploading the photos but they're viewable here: http://imgur.com/a/uhgzS
There were several reasons to build a computer. My little vaio would overheat when streaming HD content onto my TV. I was docking and undocking multiple times a day (I don't own a dock, just a lot of cables going into my laptop). It just made sense to have a dedicated work station.
When I set my mind to it, I decided I had $1000 to spend, and I wanted a relatively future proof machine. I understand there is no such thing, but my aim was if I ever encountered a problem I can overclock or add pieces as needed. This explains the absurdly overpowered power supply, if I ever have any GPU issues I can add a dedicated GPU, plug it in, install drivers, and call it a day.
CPU: I decided Haswell was important to me because the socket has a tock remaining in Intel's tick-tock cycle. Also, using integrated graphics interested me because then I could avoid using a dedicated GPU for as long as possible. I chose a K version so if needed I could overclock.
Cooler: Although still in the mail, it's actually an H70 but I didn't want to bother finding it on the site. Got it off r/buildapcsales from tiger direct for $50 with a $20 rebate on the way. I'm expecting some difficulty from the rebate, so I'm penciling in the price as $50.
MOBO: After reading and asking around I was looking at Asus, Intel, and MSI. I liked the G45 and I chose the gaming motherboard because of the Killer e2200 networking platform as well as the dragon heatsinks. It is an unnecessary expenditure, but it cost me roughly 20$ more for a mobo that matched the color scheme of the case and had a flashy networking platform. There are plenty of lovely features, only complaint is that the USB3.0 header and SATA ports faced sideways directly into the HD bays and this was semi-problematic.
RAM: Originally I was only going to have 8GB on 2 dimms for $80, but the 8GB dimms went on sale for $50 and I couldn't resist doubling up for $20 more. This ram has absurd latency timings for the price range. I haven't tried to mess with XMP, but I've read these are quite overclockable and look forward to tinkering with them.
HDDs: I wanted a super fast boot time, so I needed an SSD for the boot sector and frequented files. I also chose Windows 8 to complement the boot time. The Seagate went on sale for $110 and had decent reviews. I decided to pull the trigger and not worry about storage space.
Case: The phantom 410 is a beauty, there were many colors offered but the reviews spoke very highly of the cable management and included fans. It has front panel USB 3.0 and a fan speed controller. Overall I was very pleased with the purchase despite the moderately high price point. The fan speed controller also adjusts the brightness of the LEDs, so faster fan speeds have brighter LEDs and slower fan speeds have dimmer LEDs.
PSU: The Seasonic M12II seemed to have the best reviews. The last thing I wanted to RMA was a heavy power supply, so I went with the fully modular, haswell tested, well reviewed choice. It was expensive but I'd rather have peace of mind. The absurd wattage is in case I add a dedicated GPU one day.
OS: My university offers Windows for free, and Windows 8 has great boot times. I decided it was time to move away from 7 even though I was weary of metro. So far I still don't like aspects of the UI but it's growing on me.
Wireless Adapter: This adapter was extremely well reviewed. My only complaint is that it doesn't pick up 5GHz networks, but that's fine because I'm decently far from my access point anyway. The reviews said it was fast, cheap, and stable. As far as I can tell this is true.
Credit to my Boss Dave for doing the cable management with me, he was a maestro.
Thank you PCPP! Couldn't have done it without you!